Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is withholding money from school districts with mask mandates in defiance of a court that ruled that he does not have the power to do so.
And the amount he’s withholding is tailored for his political message: Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced yesterday that the state will withhold amounts equal to the salaries of the school board members in Alachua and Broward counties who voted for the mask mandates.
DeSantis celebrated the first day of Pride Month this past June by signing a law to ban trans girls from participating in school sports, and his attacks on Florida students continued when he signed an executive order in July banning school districts from requiring masks during the coming school year.
A Florida judge ruled last week that DeSantis didn’t have the constitutional authority to issue that executive order. The judge issued an injunction to stop Corcoran from withholding the funds.
The Florida Department of Education issued a statement yesterday that said: “The withholding of funds will continue monthly until each school board complies with state law and rule.”
DeSantis has been in the national spotlight because of Florida’s skyrocketing COVID-19 infection rate. Florida was the first state where deaths in the current wave of coronavirus were higher than in previous waves, and the state was reportedly renting coolers for corpses because morgues ran out of space.
But as the latest surge claimed lives in Florida, DeSantis was busy getting mad at President Joe Biden for pointing out that his policies may have led to the crisis.
“You know, I’m just sick of this judge – I’m sick of the judgment, the judgmental stuff on some of this stuff, nobody’s trying to… get ill here, okay,” he said earlier this month. “Joe Biden has taken to himself to try to single out Florida over COVID.”
To justify his ban on mask mandates in schools, DeSantis said he wants “to see my kids smiling…. I want them having fun.”
He signed the ban on transgender girls participating in school sports with the same scientific rigor.
“In Florida, girls are going to play girls sports and boys are going to play boys sports,” he said when he signed the bill at a Christian school in June that would force trans girls to play with cisgender boys. “We’re going to make sure that that’s the reality.”
Corcoran has not yet commented on the legality of withholding funds from schools in defiance of the injunction against him doing just that.